The attempt to get native Germans to live peacefully side-by-side with foreigners has not worked. In an unprecedented admission that is sure to transform the debate in Germany (and in Europe as a whole), over uncontrolled mass immigration, especially from Muslim countries, German Chancellor Angela Merkel now concedes that German multiculturalism has "failed utterly."
Speaking to a meeting of her center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party in Potsdam outside Berlin on October 16, Merkel said: "We are a country which at the beginning of the 1960s actually brought [Muslim] guest workers to Germany. Now they live with us and we lied to ourselves for a while, saying that they will nott stay and that they will have disappeared again one day. That is not the reality. This multicultural approach—saying that we simply live side by side and are happy about each other—this approach has failed, failed utterly."
Merkel's sobering comments follow the publication in October of a survey by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, a think tank linked to the center-left Social Democratic Party [SPD], which found that 55% of Germans believe that Arabs are "unpleasant," and over 33% believe the country is being "overrun" by immigrants. The study also noted that "far-right attitudes" are not isolated at the extremes of German society, but to a large degree "at the center of it."
The debate over what to do about Germany's broken immigration system has been simmering for years, but began in earnest in August, when Thilo Sarrazin, a prominent German banker, and also a long-time member of the SPD, published a controversial new book titled "Germany Does Away With Itself." The book broke Germany's long-standing taboo on discussing the impact of Muslim immigration by highlighting painful truths about the current state of affairs.
At the time, Merkel sought to distance herself from Sarrazin's views and called for his dismissal from the German Central Bank. In a September 3 interview with the Turkish daily Hurriyet, for example, Merkel labelled as "ridiculous" Sarrazin's view that there were too many immigrants, particularly Muslims, in Germany, and that their presence was damaging the country. She also told Germans they must get used to mosques as part of Germany's changing landscape.
But pressure from within the CDU over integration may now be prompting Merkel to take a tougher line on immigration. Disastrous opinion polls and right-wing dissatisfaction with her perceived "left-wing" conservatism have led to an open discussion about an early replacement for Germany's first woman leader.
In any event, Sarrazin's concerns over Muslim integration are resonating with the German population at large, and politicians like Merkel are taking note. Sarrazin's book has topped the bestseller list on bookseller Amazon's German website since its publication, and book tour dates across the country are sold out. Polls show broad public support for Sarrazin's anger that many Muslim immigrants shut themselves off from Germany, do not speak German and do not share the German or Western worldview.
According to a recent survey conducted by TNS Emnid pollsters, around 20% of German voters would back a hypothetical political party led by Sarrazin. Another poll conducted by the mass-circulation Bild am Sonntag shows that 89% of those surveyed say Sarrazin's arguments are convincing. "For them," according to Emnid, "Sarrazin is somebody who is finally saying what many are thinking."
Similar scenarios are playing themselves out across Europe, where political parties with anti-immigration platforms are gaining in popularity and influence — at the expense of traditional political parties, which have steadfastly refused to address the problem of out-of-control immigration, especially from Muslim countries.
Rather than acknowledge the legitimate concerns of millions of European voters -- that a large percentage of immigrants are not integrating into European society -- Europe's politically correct ruling elite for years has focused its energy on silencing dissent by branding those who refuse to buy into its multicultural worldview as racial bigots.
Now, however, increasing numbers of European voters (including many on the political left and far-left) are protesting the entrenched paternalism of Europe's ruling class by moving to the political right in search of solutions to some of Europe's most intractable (and mostly self-inflicted) problems. Center-right and far-right parties are currently governing in Britain, France, Germany and Italy, and now sit in the parliaments of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Hungary, Latvia, Norway, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
This political trend spells big trouble ahead for European multiculturalism. Although the term multiculturalism can be defined in many ways, in contemporary Europe it generally refers to an anti-Western ideology, disguised as liberalism, that encourages people of different (namely non-Judeo-Christian) faiths and cultures to settle in Europe without any expectation of them integrating. In practice, European multiculturalism often fosters an animus against Western values and encourages newcomers in anti-Western behavior, rather than promoting the common values of nationhood.
The rise of anti-immigrant parties across Europe reflects a growing concern that multiculturalism (and its myriad internal contradictions) is destroying traditional European society and must be stopped.
The guardians of European political correctness, who have grown accustomed to decades of instructing ordinary Europeans as to what constitutes acceptable thought, are not looking kindly upon this open act of insubordination. European news media are now portraying the rise of the European right as a nativist reactionary movement whose supporters are unsavory extremists who threaten the stability of Europe. They also claim that the anti-immigrant fervor sweeping Europe is a recent phenomenon, triggered by economic recession and rapidly increasing joblessness.
In truth, however, a sizeable portion of European society has been worried about the consequences of mass immigration for at least a decade, but their concerns have been largely ignored by a European ruling elite that is so pathologically ridden by a collective Western guilt complex that it refuses to sacrifice its sacred ideology of multiculturalism.
Meanwhile, back in Germany, Merkel says that "the demand for integration is one of our key tasks for the times to come." If she follows through on her declaration, it would mark the beginning of the end of European multiculturalism, which increasingly would take a back seat to efforts to promote integration and assimilation.
It would also mark an important victory for free speech and the rights of ordinary European citizens to decide how they want to live.